Effects of Intervention on Booster Seat Purchase: A Field Study


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Virginia Tech


Motor vehicle crashes remain a leading cause of death and injury for US children, despite improved crashworthiness of vehicles and effective restraint systems for children of all ages. Children who are too large for child safety seats (a child restraint system for children from birth to 4 years old) are often restrained improperly or not at all. These children should be restrained in a booster seat which is a type of child safety seat designed for children who have out grown their convertible seat and are not large enough to fit properly in an adult seat belt. For this reason, the use and correct use of occupant protection for 4-9 year old children in particular needs to be addressed.

For proper restraint, children who have outgrown child safety seats require booster seats used with vehicle lap/shoulder belts. This present study attempted to determine if raising risk perception and/or lowering cost of compliance would influence more parents to purchase booster seats for their children who should be restrained in them.

A field study with 128 participants with four treatment groups was conducted to test the following two hypotheses. 1) Informational pamphlets and dollars off coupons will reduce compliance cost and thereby induce the purchase of booster seats, 2) informational pamphlets will increase risk perception. Of the 128 participants, 37 (from various treatment groups) purchased booster seats, and 100% of those who purchased, reported that they use them each time their child rides in a vehicle.

Unlike previous studies on risk perception of consumers, this study went beyond post measures of attitude change and assessed actual purchase behavior through self-reports from the participants. In so doing, this study was able to draw inferences about the effects of the interventions on purchase behavior. The analyses indicated that intervention of any kind was more effective than no intervention in influencing the purchase of a booster seat. Thus, the intervention encouraged adoption of a safety product.

This study hopes to achieve a change in people's perception of booster seats regarding the safety of children in vehicles. In addition, possibly influencing future legislation regarding child passenger safety.



booster seats, child passenger safety, purchase behavior, risk perception, child safety seats